Hearty meal for the hungry, tired workers

This sardine stew is prepared by the ship’s crew as they haul in the sardine nets before dawn. The first batch of fish goes straight to the chef on duty, who later serves a hearty meal to the hungry, tired workers. They tear the meat off the bones using their hands and dip the bread in the thick sauce.

Ingredients

20 oz (600 g) fresh sardines
(5 or 6 per person)

2 large onions

14 oz (400 g) diced tomatoes (1 can)

1 cup (2 dl) local white or red wine

0.5 cup (1 dl) olive oil

salt

freshly crushed black pepper to taste

= serves 4 fishermen

Cleaning the sardines

Wipe each sardine with a kitchen cloth, thereby removing the scales. Nip the heads off the sardines with your fingers and remove them along with the entrails. Rinse the cleaned sardines under cold running water and dry them on a cloth.

Preparing the dish

Peel the onions and chop them roughly into smaller pieces. Sprinkle them evenly on the bottom of a large pot. Place the cleaned sardines on top, laying them side-by-side. If the pot is too narrow, stack them in several layers. Season the fish with salt and cover them with the canned tomatoes. Add the selected wine and season the dish with olive oil.

Braising

Place the pot over high heat. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes. Every so often shake the pot, as stirring would squash the fish.

Serving

Serve it with fresh white bread and help yourself to a glass of wine that was used in the stew.

Tip

If you’re lucky at the fish market, sardines can easily be replaced with smaller mackerel or chub mackerel – fishermen of Komiža call them ćurlice.


Wine pairings

For the dish itself as well as for its pairing, use a bold wine bought from a local farmer. The white Vugava from Vis will go wonderfully with the dish. Plavac Mali is the red alternative to Vugava; it’s fruity, full of extract and has no sharp acidity.